In the first of our series of coffees with people we really like, we chat to Joanne Van Campen. Joanne is the brains and beautification behind the Cupsmith brand.
We met Joanne, quite literally, at the school gates as our two little boys went to the same village nursery, and now as boisterous 6 year olds they get scabby knees and mucky shirts at the same lovely primary school in our village. Joanne worked on our brand right from the start and has helped grow and develop it into one we’re really proud of.
When Joanne’s not at Cupsmith, she can be found running her small but perfectly formed design agency Little Bulldog, with her trusty companion Max (an enormous Labrador-wolf-pup-at-heart) at her feet. She also sells personalised party invitations here, and is planning a range of hand printed cards as we speak.
We sat down with Joanne over a cup of coffee (we do that several times a day anyway) and asked her a few questions (she hates talking about herself so we had to make sure the coffee was really good and the door shut so she couldn’t escape…)
Joanne, where do you find the inspiration for the work you do?
I would say my inspiration comes in equal parts from nature and from children. The forms and colours I love come from nature, I’m particularly taken by all the beautiful grasses in the hedgerows at the moment (watch this space!). But I strongly believe that grown ups take themselves and life far too seriously so I am also happily influenced by my little boy and his friends and their natural sense of wonder and curiosity. I try to work with clients to be brave like children and let their customers see their personality in their business, to make customers smile and wonder and feel like they are part of the story.
Tell us about colour and how it influences your life
I love colour, it makes me happy. I studied art rather than design at university and I think that helped me be a lot braver with colour than a lot of other designers. I didn’t learn rules as to when and where to use colour in communication, but instinctively colours come together to create a feeling, an atmosphere. But more importantly perhaps you have to have light to give the colours life, to let them breathe. Too much colour can be worse than none at all. It’s a very personal thing so you can’t please everyone.
What are your favourite colours?
I love most colours except mauve and beige, but blue has always been my favourite colour followed at a respectful distance by bright green. I love blue because it is calm and true, the colour of the sky and the sea. My favourite shade of blue is the deep purple blue when day merges into night.
What’s your style at home?
I think it’s safe to say that our style at home is small house living combined with lots of stuff & animals! We are a family of sentimental hoarders and although we sometimes consider changing, we’re actually rather happy! We don’t have an overwhelming style of decorating in our home, just bits and bobs that we’ve picked up along the way but I’m soon going to start refurbishing our old solid teak sideboard so you never know I might have a new career ahead!
What are some of your most treasured things in your home and why?
My mum has had these little wooden men for years and recently she handed them on to me. They're very quirky and I really love them! The print is by Alex Dipple and is created from full stops in magazines that she then collated into this amazing picture. And I'm a huge fan of marbles, I have a huge collection.
Which is your favourite Cupsmith coffee?
Definitely Mr Bentley’s. Before Cupsmith, I used to think I liked really strong coffee, but actually I like smooth, chocolatey coffee brewed quite strongly. Mr Bentley’s coffee is just that. I brew it quite strong and add a splash of milk and it’s perfect, it’s even better when it cools down a bit, like lovely smooth chocolate milk. I love Mr B’s so much he gets to wear my favourite colour label and have my favourite Cupsmith illustration, the bicycle. Although saying all that, I never say no to a fantastic Cupsmith cappuccino freshly made at the roastery from freshly roasted, freshly ground Glorious Espresso.
As a brand and business, Cupsmith is all about slowing down, watching the clouds go by. How do you relax and slow down?
I have to go for at least one long walk with my dog through the fields everyday. Not just for his sake but for mine. It sets me off for the day ahead and calms me down after a particularly busy day. I’m very lucky to live somewhere where I can stroll through beautiful fields and woodland with the birds singing and bees buzzing. Also as a family, we all love having lazy, unscheduled weekends to go wandering in the woods, stopping to look under rocks and listening for the birds singing. Perfect!
How important do you think it is that we all slow down?
So so important. We seem to live in a world now where it’s a competition to see who can be busiest, but overall the best bits of life end up passing us by because we’re too busy. If we get sucked in, then every minute of our lives ends up being a jigsaw puzzle fitting everything in. We never schedule time to notice the birds singing, the sun setting or our babies growing. The cure? Why children of course! They make you stop and notice, they won’t rush no matter how late you are. They show you all the amazing things you’ve forgotten about and remind you how to marvel at the world around you. The best way to slow down is to sit down with a child and listen, they’re far more interesting than grownups, they have much better ideas and tell far better stories.